For Communicating With a Person With a Cognitive Disability
A person with a
cognitive disability often has more difficulty with one or more mental tasks
than the 'average' person.
Make sure you
speak very clearly.
If you don't know
what the person needs or wants, simply ask him/her.
If you give directions to a person with a cognitive disability, try to make
them easy and clear. Use shorter instructions and simple, direct
Help the person
remember directions by providing picture clues or other visual images.
If the person has
trouble understanding you, repeat the information using different
wording. You may also suggest that the person take notes to help
If you don't
understand the person, don't pretend that you do. Ask him/her to repeat
what they said.
role-play, or model important information with the person.
Use gestures or
diagrams to explain things.
When you are
sharing information, speak slowly and give the person time to think
the information over before continuing.
Make things as
concrete (less abstract) as you can.
Don't use humor
that the person may not understand. If you do use humor, and the
person doesn't laugh, don't think the person's rude. They just
didn't understand the joke.
everyone to be a good reader. Some people might not read at all.
When you are
traveling with a person with a cognitive disability, add cues like,
"We'll be leaving for Madison, Wisconsin in half an hour".
"Communicating With People With
Disabilities." Access Office Disability Support Services; St. Louis
Community College. 28 January 2005 <http://www.stlcc.edu/fp/access/Main/Communicating.html>.
"Tips for People With Disabilities."
Task Force on Disability Issues;
University of Minnesota Crookston. 8 November 2004
Copyrighted clip art images of children from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?lc=en-us&cag=1>
(October-March, 2004-2005). Clip art only available to licensed users for